Size does matter when picking a desktop monitor, and Samsung strikes a nice balance between big-screen experience and space-saving design with its SyncMaster 215TW.

The 21-inch 215TW LCD monitor gives you all the fun of a widescreen monitor without sprawling all over your desk. At 18.5 inches tall, 18.4 inches wide and 9 inches deep, with its stand, the 215TW sits nicely in a desk corner. For comparison's sake, a 21-inch CRT monitor from Samsung comes in at 24.6 inches tall, 25.3 inches wide and 27 inches deep.

Turning the 215TW to a vertical orientation reduces the monitor's width to a smidge more than 13 inches, which is nice, but the real benefit to going vertical becomes rapidly apparent when working with a lot of Microsoft Word documents.

It's possible to view a page and a half of a document at a time (using Word's default page margins). The monitor really shines at a vertical orientation when visiting content-heavy Web sites -- nearly three-quarters of any given IT news Web site is viewable, and you need only click once, maybe twice, on the vertical scroll bar to see the rest.

With a contrast ratio of 1000-to-1 and a maximum resolution of 1680x1050, Web pages jump off the screen. Text and graphics seem sharp enough to draw blood if you're one of those people who like to tap monitors with their fingers -- you know who you are.

The monitor sports enough features to make most people happy: One can select between picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture for viewing Web pages or streaming content; an eight millisecond response time; Samsung's Magic Tune color adjustment software, which offers simple and convenient adjustments to get superior image quality; and MagicBright2, a new feature that lets users select viewing environments based on six viewing modes: documents, Internet, games, sports, movies and customized.

Though a 21-inch screen may not seem like a huge jump from a 19-inch, that extra two inches translates to 30 percent more viewing space for PowerPoint presentations or mondo spreadsheets.

Setup took a bit longer than I thought it would -- silly me, expecting to just plug the 215TW in and go. The software in the 215TW and the software in my desktop's pre-installed graphics card didn't want to play nicely together at first, but a visit from our helpdesk took care of that conflict.

I was sad to see 215TW go. Being a bit of a cynic, all the hyping of widescreen monitors seemed like a bunch of hot air. I'm not into Evercrack or any other online games, so I didn't see much of a need for a widescreen monitor. But using the 215TW day in and day out made a believer out of me.

With this monitor, pretty much anything you do on a computer is just better.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Specifications

  • Pixel pitch: 0.270 mm

  • Brightness (typical): 300 cd/m2

  • Contrast ratio (typical): 1000:1

  • Viewing angle (H/V, typical): 178 degrees/178 degrees

  • Response time (typical): 8 ms (G to G)

  • Interface: Analog/Digital

  • Frequency: 30-81 kHz horizontal rate/56-75 Hz vertical rate

  • Resolution: 1680x1050 maximum

  • Colors: 16.7 million supported

  • Input video signal: Analog RGB, TMDS Digital Link Composite S-video, component

  • Sync type: Separate H/V; Composite H/V, SOG

  • Input connectors: 15-pin D-Sub, DVI-D CVBS

  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 18.5x18.4x9 inches with stand

  • Weight: 16.5 pounds

  • Price: $499.99
    Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor